An Open Break-Up Letter to Bloglines

Dear Bloglines,

I've been using your product ever since I figured out that clicking on the list of blogs from my blogroll or keeping a list of bookmarks would simply be too much. And you know what? It was a really slick system when I started with it. I even tried to use Google Reader and found that your interface knocked the socks off of it. That was then, and now you just make me frustrated.

For starters, you've been deploying a bunch of cool features on the beta site for months now, features that haven't made their way into the stable version. Things like a slick AJAX load, the three-pane view, loading the site instead of the feed item… goodies like that. Why would you leave all of the good features in beta for so long? I'm guessing stability reasons.

Which brings me to another gripe. The beta is buggy as hell. If I have too many items pinned in a view, you refuse to load anything past about item 30 and make them inaccessible. Why would you do this? My only option then is to go back to the classic view and watch everything get marked as read automatically as soon as I click on the feed. Yeah, I'm pinning a lot more articles than your average schmoe, but it can't be that hard to make it work, right? Just like it can't be hard to not display a bunch of cryptic "server communication error" messages when you can't load a list of feeds.

And then there's the nail in the coffin: your shoddy feed retreival. I've had feeds that you fail to retreive, through no fault of the site owner, for weeks at a time, only to bombard me with the last 2 months worth of posts all at once. Tom's Hardware didn't update for a long time, then you retreived about 1600 items at once. And after I marked them all read, you retreived them all again. And again. For weeks. What kind of nonsense is this? It's just unacceptable.

Given all of these problems, I decided to give Google Reader a second chance. It seems like a lot of folks really like it and it's been a while since I tried it out. You know what? Their interface is at least as good as yours, if not better. Plus it's not super buggy. In fact, it's everything you've been promising with the beta except that the bloody thing actually works. And it has features (like tagging and sharing) that, given your track record, we won't see working for months or even years.

So goodbye, Bloglines. I'm tried of working with what's rapidly become a Web 2.0 has-been. Score another one for Google.

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6 Responses

  1. Jeremy says:


    I’ve been with bloglines for years and have been too lazy to even try some of the new stuff they have in beta. I’ve become a complacent user. Is Google Reader any better? Please update with your impressions. I’ve been having some problems with the feed retrieval issue you mentioned and it is really ticking me off.

    Thanks for sharing your frustration!

  2. Bethany says:

    So, in other words, “It’s not me. It’s you.”

  3. Jason says:

    Suspiciously, this was the exact same break up letter Jesse gave to his twelfth grade girlfriend.

  4. BSR says:

    I’m in the same boat — just about had it with Bloglines and am searching for a replacement.

    It seems perversely evil that two of the feeds I can’t get to work right now are about the elections (fivethirtyeight) and the economy (the big picture). Nothing else is in the news and THOSE are the ones that don’t work?

    I’ll make Google Reader my first stop, as many others like it. At least Bloglines export utility works so I can take my list with me instead of rebuilding.

  5. Jesse says:

    So far, it’s like voting for Pedro: all of your wildest dreams come true. The interface is similar to Bloglines, but significantly more stable and user-friendly. I’ve also found it to not have the same problem with updating feeds and the sharing features are really nifty. I now see why its current incarnation is regularly ranked as a favorite over at LifeHacker.

  6. Jesse says:

    I should add that I just noticed that Bloglines also removed some of my subscriptions without me noticing. I thought it was just doing a poor job of pulling the feed, but noticed today that the feed was missing from my list entirely. Yet another reason to swtich.

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